Today I am 65k into the first draft of my work-in-progress and finding it bally hard going. I knew this one wasn’t going to be easy – nothing worth doing is. It has at its heart a difficult relationship and calls on, somewhat tangentially, areas in my life I’d really rather not confront.
I don’t want to give spoilers, or pre-empt things that might not get in the finished book, but I’d like to comment on a particular aspect in this post. One strand that runs through the book has an ick factor in some people’s minds. It deals with something we don’t talk about – and most certainly don’t write about in fiction for young people. At the back of my mind, Mrs Sensible says ‘you keep that in and no gatekeeper will ever let you in – never mind the book’.
Yet Ms Creative says ‘it stays – I’ve gone through a lot to put that toe-curling, squirm-able part of my life into a fictional form – and that’s what makes it good, something readers will engage with.’
Who is right?
If I look at the opinions of rational, professional writers who have to pay the bills like Stroppy Author – Mrs Sensible wins hands down. After all, I have the luxury of a patron (Lovely Husband) and not being published yet – so no expectations from the industry. But I want to be professional, to write well and to pay my way. ‘Submitting something a bit dodgy – not wise,’ says Mrs Sensible.
On the other hand, the only method I have for writing original stories which avoid the banal and the obvious, is to use the heartfelt experiences inside me. In this case, it has led to something a great deal of adults are squeamish* about – and may make it unpublishable. But it matters – it’s been hard to write about and although it’s not finished, it’s good. It matters to the central character and makes a difference to her relationships and the plot. Not so easily removed.
Mrs Sensible suggests ‘write it for an older readership then’ – Ms Creative counters ‘they’ll be too old, it’ll be memory, not experience’.
What to do? All comments very gratefully received – I haven’t had any for a while.*including me